22 January 2013

Auntie Reba

A few years ago, my cousin threw a surprise birthday party for her daddy, my uncle. This side of my family doesn’t have a lot of get-togethers or parties anymore, since my maternal grandparents passed away, so it was a special occasion on many levels.

It was a really fun night. Mostly, because it involved dancing. I love dancing. I’m certifiably horrible at dancing, but I love it. I don’t know any special moves or techniques, but I can’t help myself. I just gotta get out there and move around to the music. My husband is always really impressed.

Put your eyebrows back down.

And my sister is always understandably entertained. But that’s pretty much a given, no matter where we are.

Aside from the dancing, I got to spend some time around one of the funniest people I know: my aunt, Reba.

Not McIntyre, just to clarify.

My aunt is The Other Reba.

When my sister and I were growing up, our lives were punctuated by trips and outings we took with our mama and Aunt Reba. The grocery store, the lake, the mall, the Wal-Mart, the bookstore, or Reba’s house. It didn’t matter where we went. Wherever we were – especially ridin’ down the road in a vehicle or stopping at Sonic – we were laughing. And joking. And being sarcastic.

My mama was probably really happy about everything we learned.

Lesley and I loved every single second.

This woman taught me about sarcasm and quiet humor. She taught me how to do some small-time, illegal stuff; I’ll spare you the details. She taught me how great it was to have music playing in your kitchen all the time. She taught me how handy it would be to have a little lipstick and powder in one of your kitchen cabinets, so you wouldn’t have to run upstairs to freshen up if unexpected company came up the driveway, pulling all the dust down the road.

That’s IF you have an upstairs. And we always wanted to go up the stairs. But they always told us no. Why is that? What were they afraid of? I don’t have any stairs in my house, but my sister and her husband have stairs in theirs. I fully intend to step out of line every chance I get and invite every kid I see to go up their stairs.

“Hey, Kid! Would you like to go up these here stairs?”

“Puttin’ her lips on” was a Reba-specialty, and we teased her to no end about “freshenin’ up.”

And my day was MADE when I walked in her kitchen and saw finger-shaped tea cakes in the cookie jar. And nothing was more fun than sitting in the booth in her kitchen to eat or color or listen to all the grown-ups talk.

Weekend nights, we’d play in their living room and just hope and hope that they would keep talking…how late could we manage to stay out and up? 1 AM? 2?! Y’all just keep talkin' in there over the cokes and cheese dip! We’re fine over here in the living room, playing and trying not to drool on the leather couches....

How many times did Daddy have to hear: “Can we take our bikes to Reba’s house to ride?” They grow cotton and soybeans and corn and there are miles upon miles of trails and roads and paths to follow through the fields. It was a labyrinth. A city compared to our bumpy, dirt driveway, on which we were only allowed to ride "as far as the pecan tree."

When you’re young, you’re immune to so much. In your eyes, everyday is fun and an adventure and just as simple as a trip to town or down the road. You never consider what might be going on with everyone behind the scenes or after hours or in their hearts. All the complications are gone, and you only know what you see, right in front of your face.

Obviously, we grew up, and we don’t spend the time with her that we used to. I do miss going on those trips together. Even if it meant meandering through the Food 4 Less grocery store for two hours, wondering why there weren’t any windows. Wondering how any two women could browse so much stuff and leave with so little after so long. Wondering if all families went out to eat and then topped their night off with a grocery store or Wal-Mart run.


I have a feeling that Lesley is going to be Katie’s Reba.

Here she is. Sitting with my husband. Still funny, quiet, and a little dangerous.

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